Five Tips for Creating a 50/50 Patient-Provider Partnership in Health

  1. Recognize that the patient brings half of the treatment success to the relationship. This relationship (short-term or long-term) should be implemented as a 50/50 partnership.
    • The provider is the expert on medical assessment & treatment
    • The patient/family is the expert on the social context of his/her life; e.g., health concerns, ambivalence, abilities, values, and most importantly what motivates the patient from within to participate in the treatment plan… it’s not what providers think!
    • Guide the patient/family to explore their concerns and any ambivalence (conflicts) they have about their condition(s), treatment plan, family issues, etc. Give them a few moments to consider this and to share with you.
  2. Know that the patient/client is the true change agent. Use open-ended questions to guide the patient to establish the agenda and address these concerns. Health teaching is integrated while guiding the patient/family according to their concerns about the treatment plan, their health condition(s), or other.
  3. Give attention to the patient/family’s values, beliefs and concerns. The social context of the patient’s life can trump any health teaching, prescription or medical advice. As many as 60% of individuals don’t follow-through with treatment plans and medications. Most often, treatment plans are prescribed without much discussion about how this particular plan will affect the patient or the family. What may seem to be a simple medication change to the provider can result in a major concern for the patient.
    • For example, a patient is prescribed pain medication to take prior to his home exercise program to help decrease expected pain during muscle flexion and extension exercises. However, the patient’s brother became dependent on his pain medication post-operatively, and the patient fears this could happen to him too. The outcome: Lack of exercise as prescribed that results in a frozen shoulder.
  4. It’s a natural tendency to resist persuasion! Providers have a tendency to “direct” patients instead of guiding and engaging them. How is this done? Through motivational interviewing within a health coaching context.
  5. If a patient/family is “non-compliant”, it’s safe to presume he/she/they have not been involved in the treatment plan from the beginning or the personal situation has changed affecting follow-through. Remember, non-compliance doesn’t necessarily mean resistance; there’s often an implication for the social context of the patient’s life that has been overlooked and not addressed by the provider.

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